Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Little Addendum... And Some Big News

I know I'm meant to be semi-retired from The Library. And I am. However, I felt it would be courteous to say 'thank you' to all those wonderful commenters who have been kind enough to leave a note, either via email or the Comments Box. Thank you. Thank you. You are truly lovely people. I have tried to respond to everyone's gracious and thoughtful comments, and will certainly finish replying by tonight.

I'd also like to explain why the blog is having a hiatus. You see, a few of us are working on a little project. Actually, it's quite a big one. An international one.

It all started with XX magazine, that dubious bit of tabloid entertainment that we all love to loathe.

A few months ago, I was browsing through either Vogue or Elle Decoration in the newsagent's when a woman came in, picked up XX, flicked angrily through it and then paused, in shock, at page three. "Oh. My. God.," she said out loud, looking at a certain celebrity in hot pants. "She is JUST HUGE!" Then she tossed the magazine down (creases and all), and walked away. I peeked at the creased page. (Terrible, I know.) The 'huge' celebrity was a singer. Who is NOT huge. In fact, she is incredibly beautiful. I looked at The Critic flouncing out the store, and noticed she was wearing gym clothes. Her own butt was as far from Zahia Dehar's pert behind as the Pope is from Kim and Khloe Take Miami.

Talk about kettle and pot.

Welcome to the new world of 'Bottom-Dweller Media', as a witty friend of mine has dubbed it. A world where we are all being encouraged to read shallow tabloids and be nasty about others' derrieres. 

I don't know about you all but I can't take another snarky Twitter remark, or indeed another tabloid spread. Our family is a broadsheet family anyway, but I'll pick up a gossip page at the check-out, like everyone else. The problem is, we are dumbing down our society with all this 'lowest common denominator' media. Please God, don't let me suffer another Kardashian chapter. And what's with that new TV channel '7 Mate'? I had to sit through Gator Boys, Rat Bastards and Swamp People the other night. I swear, I needed serious therapy by the time we got to the Wormwood Scrubs doco...

Here's something else I've noticed. What's with all the page spreads promoting sofas and cushions*? We're all intelligent people, with first-class degrees, successful careers and smart minds. Why are we browsing cushion-filled product pages and buying them by the baker's dozen? I love cushions but we have 30. THIRTY. I think I've lost the dogs underneath them. Are we all breeding them?

{* For the benefit of our American friends, cushions in Australia are the decorating item that sit on sofas. Pillows are the longer things we sleep on. I realise it's different in the US.}

Why is it that media and magazines have softened over the years? I'm not sure if you remember the grand glamour of Vogue and Harper's in the 1990s, and even before then, with the vintage issues of the 1950s and 1960s? (Which many of us are now collecting from vintage dealers for huge prices.) Magazines back then were things of beauty. The covers. The content. The creative mastheads. They were also interesting. Even the dull stories were clever. Truman Capote. Cecil Beaton. Nancy Mitford and her sisters. 

Whatever happened to personalities like those?

The new anniversary issue of Australian Harper's Bazaar with the different celebrity-conceived covers is inspired publishing. But wouldn't it be great if the innovative spirit continued all the way through the industry? What has happened to us? Where is our sense of style, and adventure, and creativity? Where are the great stories? The wit and whimsy? Where are the insightful, delightful, aspirational, glamorous, relevant and – most importantly – celebratory stories, with a positive, Jonathan Adler-style philosophy on life, rather than a critical, derogatory one. What has happened to us all? Why are we settling for cushions?

Whatever would Diana Vreeland say?

And so, dear readers, we are working on a new project. A new online international magazine for women of The Glamorous Age. As we've now dubbed it. 

A friend has described it as "a sexier, wittier, more glamorous version of The Huffington Post", but I think it's more like Harper's or Vogue in the heydays of those titles. The days when magazines were magnificent. 

(NB These titles are still beautiful, don't get me wrong; but just look at these covers I've posted. Aren't they incredible?)

I can't tell you more about it yet (forgive me), but it will be full of things you love: books, fashion, gardens, people, a bit of travel, interiors, cities, shopping secrets, and just those old-fashioned glamorous things we all miss. It's going to have lots of humour. and whimsy too. I'm not working on a dry magazine. 

The good news is, we're rapidly gathering together the MOST amazing group of magazine people, many of them big overseas names. And the content is going to be like nothing you've ever read. Trust me. These stories are amazing. Insights into extraordinary historic homes in LA. Stylish new hotels in New York. One of the original Great Gatsby mansions on Long Island. Interviews with people we love and admire. Exotic destinations off the beaten track – the kinds of far-flung, glamourous destinations that make us remember why we love travel much. And of course gardens... Secret gardens. Grand gardens. The original Versailles-style garden of France. We hope you'll really love the gardens. They're so beautiful they'll make you weep.

So please do bear with me. And when we manage to get the first issue our – hopefully by summer – we hope you'll put down those cushions and come celebrate with us. As the Edwardians used to say: "It's going to be a grand summer..."

Love this last cover. No wonder these vintage issues now sell for a small fortune...


  1. Choosing a voice for my blog I knew the voice of, Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, would be critical.

    Sir Roy Strong is in my chosen voice too. At least I try !!

    It would be a joy to get Beverley Nichols 'voice'. Love him, hope you know his garden books. Cole Porter could write songs for his books.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    1. I was just thinking of that book whilst reading this post

  2. oh janelle what a brilliant idea. i so wish i had those old magazines that my sister collected.

    will this magazine be online or a hard copy?
    i'm in for either!

  3. Hi Janelle! I am extremely happy to hear about your magazine plans. Please add me to the list of subscribers - my address is Can't wait for the release of the first issue!

    Best wishes


  4. So excited to hear about this new venture - roll on the summer and your inaugural edition...delighted to anticipate reading something as lovely as your blog has been!

  5. Looking forward to seeing the new magazine (even though I'd still give my left arm for a pair of Scalamandre Leopardo silk velvet cushions)

  6. Fabulous! Can't wait for it to come out, and so pleased that you're doing something about it - so many of us complain about the stupid tv/magazines, but then keep on watching/ reading them.....not that I've ever bought a trash mag in my life, but frankly with the celebrity only cover that quite a lot of magazines publish, it's debatable whether I have or haven't. With all the big tv shows rolling out, I've found them so boring that I've been doing a lot of reading instead. Not such a bad thing! Good luck - what a lot of exciting projects you have on! xx

  7. I'm very excited. I was so sad when you said you were stopping. Where was I going to go for a dose of non-gossipy beauty? I am so bored with the lowest common dominator magazines. So I can't wait to see what you produce.

  8. Dear Janelle

    How exciting! Can't wait!

    Best wishes, Pamela

  9. I luff tv but my main focus is documentaries.

    I cannot wait for your magazine and look forward to it all xxx

    PS found a snap of Di in Tetbury in 81. Thought it was a SIGN. x

  10. Good on you. Thank you for taking up the challenge and I wish you and your colleagues all the very best. I would love to take up a subscription.

  11. Thank you for sharing! I enjoy reading this blog when it is available but NOW...I'm looking forward to your new venture, which does seem exciting :-)
    Can't wait!

  12. This is wonderful news! Finally a quality read. I was so upset when you posted your adieu, now I know its simply a bientot.
    Please keep me updated on your upcoming tours. I will get on one, promise.
    Best of luck in this new venture.

  13. Very excited to see another post from you. Well, how fantastic is this news?! And I cannot think of a better person to do this - it will a wonderful success - I just know....S x

  14. Well of course, as one who is devoted to all that is Glamorous, or at least the pursuit of its elusive self, and the elements which therefore lie within, I am all ears about this new adventure of yours, and shall look forward to its witty take on Glamour. Sounds tantalisingly delicious! xx

  15. I was so excited when I saw this post ..
    I know you and your cohorts will produce something fantastic.

  16. That sounds wonderful--and worth waiting for. Can't wait to see the finished product.

  17. Gosh! So much energy, enthusiasm and creativity! I am a person who likes to pretty much focus on one main thing at a time, so your multitasking skills leave me amazed!

  18. I'm so glad that you haven't quite retired and I will look forward to your new project, it will fill a very empty niche. I buy the odd food magazine, but have given up on most of the others and just read them at the hairdresser. I do enjoy the British Spectator that is handed on to me by my mother in law, who gets it delivered each week. It doesn't matter what your politics are, no-one writes like those charming, pithy British journos. Best wishes to you.

  19. Oh Janelle .... I am so excited at the prospect of your new venture! I so AGREE with you! What a fabulous idea and so glamorous. We need elegance, glamour, manners, etiquette and inspirational icons . We need to feel positive and excited for our future and I am 48 feeling like I am finally finding myself. I love dressing up, listening to music, having fun, going riding but also like to feel I am giving something back to the world and leaving a legacy for our children where they will somehow get through this time when manners seem to have gone out the window. We at this age are the generation who can bring back that golden age! Well done and good luck!
    best wishes always

  20. Wonderful news! Just promise you won't have a cosmetic surgery supplement (Yes, Vogue Australia I am talking about you) that is seriously declasse.
    Only other question - are you talking Northern Hemisphere summer or Southern Hemisphere summer?

  21. Well, fantastic news to know that quality publications are back talking about gardens, interesting architecture, fashion and hope museums as well, but with the sign of elegance and creativity. I hope it gets international (here is Majorca -Spain) Best of luck!

  22. Good luck on your project. I for one will miss your blogging but if you can squeeze it in I will always read it!

  23. Such welcome news! We're a broadsheet family also and have been despairing at the selection of "news" currently on offer. Kardashian's, stay at home vs working mother media-contrived controversy, grasping consumerism, diets, car-crash relationship viewing and who's in a tweet war with whom. Where is the grace? Where is the kindness? Where is the creativity? God bless your cotton socks. Can't wait. M xo

  24. Oh my stars. You've nailed it, my friend. I retreated from the world of crass commercialism and consumerism ages ago. Have slept soundly ever since. Can't wait for this wondrousness to wake me from my reverie. Perfect timing, mon amie! J x

  25. When I was a teenager in the 60's, I loved Mademoiselle Magazine for being literary and intelligent,as well as stylish. It represented everything I aspired to. Sadly, it declined in the 70's and finally went away. I have missed it. Diane Sawyer was on their college board one year; they published poetry and short stories by Sylvia Plath and Truman Capote. They did not glorify celebrities who were noted only for being famous.
    I would love to see the return of such a magazine, whether in print or online.

  26. That is an exciting project Janelle... how wonderful... I can't wait to see this new spread... it sounds amazing and something that is totally welcome...
    Enjoy this lovely creativity... xv

  27. Discovered your wonderful blog(thanks to Claire!)just as you were taking a sabbatical! Looking forward to reading your new venture when it's available.

  28. Ahh, I felt a sense of relief reading your post and hearing that someone/anyone out there can revive the sense of style and beauty I've been missing! Best wishes for a successful run!


  29. Having seen how gorgeous your blog is Janelle, I'm sure your magazine is going to be a roaring success! All the best!

  30. Hi Janelle, This is so exciting - it sounds as though it will really be marvelous! Good luck.
    Sarah x
    ps wouldn't it be lovely to have something like this venture printed in paper form? Something for the future!

  31. Janelle, this is so exciting! I have about 75 old issues of Vogue, House & Garden, Southern Accents, Home, and other now-defunct magazines in my basement. I've been holding onto them for 20-30 years because I just couldn't bring myself to toss them, they're so elegant and beautiful.

    Good luck on your new venture; I can't wait to see your first issue.

  32. Janelle, I am not embarrassed to admit that I danced a little jig when your post popped up in my box. I LOVE your Library and will be the first person to sign up for whatever you are involved in.

    I am looking forward to a beautiful, intellectual magazine filled with travel, books, beautiful homes and all of the things that we find here!

    Keep us posted!

    Congratulations on all of your projects!



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